A South Carolina senator is in Iowa to gauge whether there would be support here if he runs for president.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham arrived Thursday and has had a series of private meetings with GOP leaders and key interest groups within the party.
“So far so good,” Graham said after a meeting with some state legislators. “These people have been very good to give me some of their time. I’ve asked ’em what’s the dumbest thing people often do and (I’ll) try to avoid that.”
Their basic advice to Graham?
“Show up,” Graham said. “Shoe leather.”
Graham will decide within “a couple of months” whether to run for the White House.
“I want to make a good decision. We’ll look and see what kind of an organization we can put together. I’m a hard worker, I’ve just got to make sure there’s a path for me,” Graham said. “I don’t mind taking a risk, but for the last three years I’ve been yelling: ‘This ain’t workin’. This ain’t workin’,’ when it comes to foreign policy and I want to showcase in Iowa why I believe it’s not working and what we need to do to get our security back that we’re losing.”
Graham has formed a “testing the waters” committee called “Security Through Strength” and will hold a news conference early this afternoon in Des Moines “to discuss the threat posed by radical Islam.”
“If I run, I want to run a very hard-hitting, candid campaign,” Graham said late Thursday afternoon. “…If I could find a way to fight radical Islam without any American soldiers in the Middle East, I’d do it, but you can’t.”
According to Graham, somebody has to “rise to the occasion” to lead the U.S. “to a better position” when it comes to both national security and the economy.
“I am afraid that my party will get off into a land of self-deportation. I’m afraid that my party and the Democratic Party won’t talk about the challenges we face to save Medicare and Social Security,” Graham said. “I want to have a discussion in the Republican Primary that realizes that Democrats exist. If you’re going to be president of the United States, you’d better be willing and able to deal with Democrats, too, so I just want a candid conversation that’s long overdue.”
Graham, who is a lawyer, was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994. He won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2002 and won reelection to the senate in 2008 and 2014. Graham’s first career was in the military and he remains in the Air Force Reserves. He teaches periodically at the Air Force School for military lawyers.